Wound Care

Wound Care

When a wound does not heal in the time and manner expected, the Wound Care team at Keck Hospital of USC provides specialized treatment to facilitate the healing process and enable the patient to live as normal, healthy and pain-free a life as possible.

Our state-of-the-art, evidence-based wound care is provided on both an inpatient and outpatient basis by a professional team led by a Certified Wound Care Specialist who is not only a physical therapist but has also met rigorous national standards of education, experience and clinical expertise in the specialty of wound care.

Who Benefits From Wound Care?

Specialized wound care can benefit patients with a range of diagnoses and impairments, including:

  • Neuropathy (damage to motor or sensory nerves)
  • Diabetes (due to impaired circulation associated with diabetes, wound healing can be delayed)
  • Arterial insufficiency (poor return of fluid from the legs to the cardiovascular system with resultant swelling)
  • Chronic venous insufficiency (when veins do not channel blood properly)
  • Infected surgical sites
  • Dermatological (skin) disorders
  • Traumatic wounds (a wound that occurs as a result of an injury)
  • Pressure wounds
  • Burns

Comprehensive Diagnostic & Treatment Resources

Once the cause and any contributing factors are identified, a personalized care plan is developed taking into consideration the patient’s medical condition, nutritional status and functional abilities. Equally important, the care plan incorporates the patient’s goals for treatment.

At Keck Hospital of USC, we offer a wide range of state-of-the-art wound care treatments, including:

  • Sharp debridement – Using a sterile scalpel or other sharp instrument to remove dead or necrotic (dying) tissue or foreign material from and around a wound to expose healthy tissue and aid wound healing.
  • Compression therapy – The use of bandages and specially designed garments that provide pressure to a particular area of the body to improve circulation and prevent edema (an excessive accumulation of fluid).
  • Electrical stimulation – The use of small, carefully controlled doses of electrical current to stimulate wound healing. The electrical stimulation mimics that of the human body and helps to jump-start or accelerate the wound healing process.
  • Ultrasound – Ultrasound transmits a sound wave at a frequency above the range of human hearing; it heats the area of the body it is applied to, which can help to speed the healing process.
  • Hydrotherapy – The therapeutic use of water (hydro) to cleanse and treat wounds.
  • Footwear Evaluation – To relieve areas of pressure or friction as a result of bony deformities of the foot.
  • Pulsed lavage – A form of hydrotherapy that uses a pressurized, pulsed solution (usually saline) to irrigate and debride wounds of necrotic tissue.
  • Vacuum-assisted closure (VAC) – A wound-healing technique in which controlled, negative pressure therapy helps to remove wound fluid, stimulate tissue and reduce bacteria.
  • Advanced wound dressings that use state-of-the-art biological materials and technology to promote wound healing.

Common Terms Used in Wound Care

  • Assistive device – Devices that help people with a physical impairment to write, read, move, speak, hear, and otherwise conduct normal activities. For people with lower-extremity wounds that make walking difficult, these can include wheelchairs, walkers or canes.
  • Chronic venous insufficiency – A condition in which veins do not channel the flow of blood adequately. It is most often seen in the lower extremities (the legs).
  • Deep tissue injury – (see Pressure ulcer)
  • Edema – An excessive accumulation of fluid.
  • Etiology – The root cause of a disease or disorder.
  • Gait training – Instruction in walking, with or without equipment (also called ambulation training).
  • Eschar – Tissue that is necrotic or dead.
  • Neuropathy – Damage to the nerves. Peripheral neuropathy affects the nerves controlling sensation in the feet, hands, and joints.
  • Orthotics – Specialized, custom-designed mechanical devices to support or assist weakened or abnormal joints or limbs.
  • Pressure ulcer – An area of skin that breaks down as a result of prolonged pressure (e.g. shear, or repeated friction on a bony prominence). This often happens if a person uses a wheelchair or is bedridden (after surgery or an injury, for example). The constant pressure against the skin reduces the blood supply to that area, and the affected tissue dies (also called deep-tissue injury).
  • Sepsis – Severe illness caused by overwhelming infection of the bloodstream by toxin-producing bacteria

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why does a wound not heal?
A: There are many factors that can affect the body’s ability to heal. These include poor nutrition, vitamin deficiency, the presence of other diseases that compromise the immune system, poor circulation, age, or certain medications that interfere with the healing process. We look closely at the whole patient to get a complete picture of his or her health status and determine the underlying physiological and behavioral reasons why a wound does not heal.